Monday, April 27, 2015

Field Blog, Hathaway Brown Day 3

On my third and final day at Hathaway Brown, the students continued to amaze me. Immediately to the left when you walk into Mrs. Pietrafese’s classroom, there is an arts and crafts station set up for the students to use. When I walked in on the third day, Mrs. Pietrafese and her helper set out on the table stamps of each letter of the alphabet and an ink pad that the students were more than welcome to use. One of the students, Thomas, invited me to sit down with him as he used the stamps. Thomas shared with me that he wanted to make a person out of the letters. Thomas used the letter O for the head and body, the letter I for the arms and legs, and the letter E for the eyes. I was not sure how the E fit into the picture, but I did not stop him from using the E. Witnessing Thomas discover that if he puts those three letters together in a configuration that a person would form was a profound experience for me. It blew my mind that this little five year old was capable of that type of deductive knowledge.
That same morning, Reed’s mom brought in homemade Play-Doh for the class to use; Reed is one of the girls in Mrs. Pietrafese’s class. On a separate table in the arts and crafts station, Mrs. Pietrafese put the three colors of Play-Doh on the table for the children to play with. Multiple students asked Mrs. Pietrafese where the rolling pins were. In response, Mrs. Pietrafese told her students that there are no rolling pins and just to use their hands. I really liked how Mrs. Pietrafese encouraged her students to create whatever they wanted to on their own, versus using a rolling pin or some kind of other device. I feel like it really challenged the students to use their imaginations.
Located at the arts and crafts station was a single-hole puncher. One of the students, Kavya, using the single-hole puncher approached me and asked if I would help her. Assuming Kavya realized that she was not physically strong enough to use the single-hole puncher, I proceeded to punch holes out of this magenta paper for her. I stopped only after punching a few holes, but Kavya asked if I could keep going. Kavya shared with me that the holes I was punching out for her was going to be the snow in the picture she was creating. After that, I noticed her beginning to glue the tiny circles on her picture. Kavya now had magenta “snowflakes” glued on her picture. I thought how great it was that Kavya did not care what the color of her snowflakes were, and I also thought how great it was that Kavya realized that the circles produced by the single-hole puncher could be used as snow. Again, the imaginations on these children blew my mind.

Overall, I really enjoyed the three days I spent at Hathaway Brown. I was surprised at how quickly I learned all fourteen names of the students, and I realized that I could see myself doing this every day as a career. One question I wish I asked Mrs. Pietrafese is how she goes from being around four and five year olds all day to going home and being with her children. In reality, the only time it seems like she can relax is at night when she would be asleep; she is just constantly surrounded by and interacting with children. I guess I’m also wondering then if it gets to be too much to handle. Considering I would like to be married and have children one day, this is something I have to think about as I embark on this journey of becoming a teacher. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Field Blog: Shaker Heights Middle School

In the first classroom we observed, the seventh grade students were finishing up a quiz. As the students handed in their quizzes, they were invited to watch the movie playing on the Smart Board. I have noticed that in almost every classroom I have observed in there is a Smart Board. In this particular classroom, to the left of the Smart Board the homework was written down in a list. There was one teacher in the classroom, as well as another adult. I did not get the chance to ask who the other adult was, so perhaps she is an aid to the teacher. The teacher constantly told the students to "shhh." I was wondering myself why the students were so chatty that day. Many students in the class were reading Double Dutch, and I noticed that at the end of the class, one student collected all of the Double Dutch books and put them in a bin. Finally, the students in the class kept organized by having all their materials in their own personal bin that was left in the classroom until next they met. 

The second classroom we observed was different than the first. For starters, the students in the second classroom were eighth graders. In this second classroom, the students were set up at tables versus the rows of desks I saw in the first classroom. Considering we were observing a math class, the students along with the teacher were discussing different shapes and preparing for a test tomorrow. The teacher distributed patty paper to the students to use as they completed the packet. I remember using patty paper in high school in my honors math classes. Someone was sitting at the wrong table; the teacher asked him kindly to move back to his original table. Thankfully, that problem was easily averted with the cooperation of the student by listening to the teacher. For the first fifteen minutes of class, the students worked together at their tables to complete a packet, and then the whole class was going to convene for the remaining time to go over the packet. The teacher was going around to each table, answering any of the questions the students had. A lot of the students had trouble with a particular problem in the packet; the teacher remained patient explaining it so many times. Finally, the students and the teacher were taking turns helping a student one-on-one who had been absent for a little while. All in all, my experience at Shaker Heights Middle School was enjoyable. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Field Blog 4: Hathaway Brown, Day 2

At the end of my second day at Hathaway Brown, a couple of occurrences stuck out to me. To set the scene, the students wrote “I Am” poems in the morning to be displayed at their Art Show on Monday, March 9. I remember writing this exact poem when I was in seventh or eighth grade, so it was crazy to see four and five year olds doing the same activity I did at an older age. Time passed by, and the students, along with Mrs. Pietrafese, were sitting in a circle on the floor on the pond rug. Mrs. Pietrafese read out loud the poems created by the students in her class, and she wanted the other students to guess who the author of the poem was; she instructed the author of the poem to remain quiet if it was his or hers being read aloud. At such a young age, it was profound to see how the students knew each others thoughts.
Considering the room was a mess, Mrs. Pietrafese then made it a game to clean up the room; she instructed her students to pick up ten things and put them back in their proper place. Within moments, the room was tidied up. Some students picked up more than ten things, and if Mrs. Pietrafese saw this, she praised that student for going above and beyond the task at hand. As soon as Mrs. Pietrafese made cleaning up the room a game, the students seemed to take more interest in it. Perhaps just simply cleaning the room without a challenge was boring for the students or less interesting.

Finally, before lunch, Mrs. Pietrafese and her helper took the students to the Big Muscle Room to kill some time. The Big Muscle Room is an indoor playground with brightly painted walls and a padded floor. I remember seeing a beautiful dragonfly painted on the one wall, and I would assume that the floor is padded because if the children fall, then it will not hurt as badly. Generally speaking, the girls played with the girls, and the boys played with the boys. There was a set of twins in Mrs. Pietrafese’s class, a boy and a girl, and during the time in the Big Muscle Room, the two of them played with each other. As I was sitting there, I was wondering why none of the boys were playing with the girls and vice versa. I guess it is a natural instinct to play/interact with people of the same gender as you, or in the case of the twins, to play with your sibling. All in all, though, Day 2 at Hathaway Brown was a success as well.

Final post (10)

“In order to take intellectual and creative risks in the classroom, I would need to feel as though I would not be judged by my peers and professor when expressing my thoughts and opinions. Once I gain that feeling, I'm pretty open to sharing my ideas with others.” That quotation comes directly from my original blog post for this class, and having been through ten weeks of ED 100, I’m happy to say that I feel comfortable expressing my opinions without the fear of being judged. Generally speaking, if I become a teacher, I hope my students feel comfortable to say what they want in my classroom while keeping in mind that I will not, nor will their peers, judge them. From my observations gathered at Chipotle with Gabby, I realized that I am quick to judge a person, which is something I do not want to carry over into the classroom; I need to truly get to know my students for who they are and what they can bring to the classroom. Also from those observations at Chipotle, I learned that I needed to also work on not giving into the stereotypes society forms about people. This is especially true if I end up teaching at an inner city school; I would have to work extremely hard to go beyond the stereotypes of inner city school students. The next blog post was regarding a Lisa Delpit quotation, and from that quotation I gathered that our beliefs change our perceptions and the reality around us. Therefore, as we complete our individual observation hours, as well as go on the field trips with the whole class, we need to be able to set our beliefs aside in order to truly understand the situations unfolding in front of us. I will need to set my personal beliefs aside in order to properly manage my classroom and in order to help solve problems that occur between my students. The next blog post continues to look at Lisa Delpit’s work. The most important aspect I took away from this was that teachers needed to be aware that sometimes the language spoken in the classroom is not the language their students are used to. For example, a student in my classroom may come from a Spanish speaking household, and it is my duty to be aware of that and embrace it. Spanish is then the language he or she would associate with love, so I must be conscientious of not telling him or her that he or she is “wrong” because then he/she would feel unloved. The next post was regarding Rofes’ essay. In terms of his concept of liberalism, Rofes believes that parents and those closely related to the LGBTQ people should protect and stick up for those who identify as being part of that community. This is true for teachers as well because teachers should be the voice for students who cannot speak up for themselves, and I would gladly do so for any of my future students. Rofes also discusses childhood in an interesting manner, considering he believes children are the most oppressed in today’s society. If I were to become a teacher I would want to teach in the Early Childhood department; therefore, I will try my hardest not to oppress my students inside and outside of the classroom, keeping in mind that the people I would be instructing are children. The post regarding Freire’s piece continues to resonate through my mind. I said this once, and I will say it again. I refuse to use the banking approach to teaching in my classroom; I want my students to be actively engaged with me and their peers throughout the time we spend together in the classroom, not just sitting in their desks mindlessly taking notes. Blog post seven discusses Ayers’ concept of building bridges, which could be applied to many facets of teaching.  The most important bridge to build, in my opinion, is the bridge between the teacher and the parent, the classroom and the household. Often times, what’s going on in the home is carried over into the classroom and affects the students’ behavior in the classroom. If that bridge is built between the classroom and the household, then the teacher would have a better understanding as to why that student is behaving the way he/she is, and the teacher could possibly then provide insight on a way to work through the situation occurring at home. From creating a school with Gabby, I learned that there are many components and factors that go into making a well-rounded school. One has to take into consideration the attendance policy, the location of the school, the staff to be hired, and so much more. By doing this post with Gabby, I realized that before I accept an offer from a school, I will need to seriously sit down, look at the school as a whole, and see if I, as a teacher, would feel comfortable teaching in a setting like that particular school offers. If, hypothetically speaking, I denied the offer from the school, then I need to reassure myself that there are plenty of other options out there for me.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Field Blog 3: Hathaway Brown, Day 1

For my ten individual observation hours, I visited a PreK classroom at Hathaway Brown. The class was comprised of fourteen students, ranging in ages from four to five year olds, with a teacher and a teacher’s helper. On my first day, the students wasted no time incorporating me into their routines. While I was playing with two boys, Thomas and Elijah, I noticed Mrs. Pietrafese, the teacher, was sitting on the floor working one on one with a student helping her fix something; I couldn’t get a good look at what it was. Regardless, I found it interesting how amongst the noise and activity going on in the classroom, Mrs. Piertrafese was able to seemingly zone out everything else and focus on the task at hand with a single student.
As the day progressed, snack time fell upon us. The students were divided amongst three different tables. Above each table was a handcrafted mobile. I asked Mrs. Piertrafese about the mobiles above the tables, and she said it was an activity the students took part in during the first six weeks of school because they wanted to build community amongst everyone. I found it interesting that despite the young age these students are, the school made it point to make sure that they felt bonded to one another. For the first day, everyone got one banana, and one student from the class was responsible for the distributing the bananas to everyone.  A different student distributed a piece of cloth, which was to act as a placemat, and a cup to every student used for water. Perhaps the various jobs needed to run snack time efficiently were assigned to different students to give them a sense of purpose. Before the students were allowed to eat their snack, they all said a thankful poem together, along with the teachers. Perhaps they all said this poem together to gain a sense of appreciation for the food and other blessings they have, versus the people who are starving in the world. In the middle of each table was a fake candle that was glowing as the students ate their snack, which were decorated during the first six weeks as well. I assume a fake was used because a real candle runs the risk of injury. At the end of snack, the teacher’s helper went around the each table, and together, they “blew” the candle out by flicking the switch off on the bottom of the candle.  
After snack time, we all bundled up to go outside to play. Considering I was standing in shin deep snow, I sought refuge in one of the structures of the playground. Between the structure I was standing in and the structure a student, Mia, stood in, there lies a rope bridge. Mia wanted to get down on the ground to play, but she kept on claiming that she could not do it. Mia did not want to go down the slide because the snow had piled up on it, and she was also scared to go on the bridge, though. However, after watching another student cross the bridge, and with my unwavering encouragement, Mia got down on the ground with no problem. Perhaps Mia feared using the bridge to get down on the ground because she did not want to fall through it and hurt herself. It was amazing to see this whole process unfold, seeing a student faced with a problem and triumphantly not only conquer the problem, but also conquering her fear of the bridge.

Finally, when we reentered the classroom after coming inside from playing outside, the students slowly but surely removed their snow clothes and hung some pieces on the radiator to dry. When the students were done removing their snow clothes, they were allowed to play until lunch, which was at noon, or until they got picked up from the program, which ended at 11:30. I noticed that Thomas approached the teacher’s helper and claimed that Elijah hit him in the midst of their horseplay. After listening to Thomas, the teacher’s helper directed Thomas to talk to Elijah. You normally see the teacher, or in this case, the teacher’s helper, acting as the mediator between two students when a problem arises. It was great to see the students talking directly to each other in order to solve the problem between them. Perhaps Mrs. Pietrafese and her helper use this method of problem solving to avoid miscommunications.   

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Field Blog 2: Cleveland Heights High School

This week, when we visited Cleveland Heights High School, I focused on how the teacher interacted with her students. I was in Mrs. Bauer-Blazer’s AP Econ classroom. Unfortunately, me and Ross visited on a test day, so we did not get to see her teach a lesson to her students. However, I still observed some interesting aspects of her classroom, and she made it a point to come over and talk to me and Ross. Before she distributed the test and scan tron sheets to her students, she allowed them to ask her questions. From a students’ perspective, I appreciate when any teacher does this because there could be that last piece of information you did not copy down in your notes that is crucial to pass the test. After distributing the test and scan tron sheets, she told them to relax and that they will do well; it is always reassuring to hear the teacher say that before you actually begin the test. As the students made their way through the test, they raised their hands if they had a question about the test, and the teacher approached the student to help him or her.

At one point, when she was speaking with me and Ross, she told us that she got her masters in American History but ended up teaching Econ. She followed that statement up quickly with, “you have to be ready to go with the flow.” This is obviously applicable to me, considering I am just embarking on this journey of becoming a teacher. Ideally, I would like to teach PreK or Kindergarten; however, after hearing what Mrs. Bauer-Blazer said, I realized that I have to be ready and willing to teach a different grade level if need be. Finally, I could not help but notice how lively she decorated her classroom. Hanging in the room were seven different countries’ flags, including the United States’, which added a nice amount of color to the classroom. There was also writing on the window with what I assume to be was window paint of various colors. I am very grateful that we visited Cleveland Heights High School because I will carry what I learned from my observations with me as I continue on with my journey of becoming a teacher.